Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Being Flynn

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for adult situations, language, nudity, and sex
Profanity:Constant very strong and explicit language
Nudity/Sex:Very explicit sexual references and situations, nudity
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking, drugs, substance abuse
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie, character makes bigoted remarks
Movie Release Date:March 9, 2012

Nick Flynn was working at a Boston homeless shelter when his father, Jonathan Flynn, came in looking for a place to stay. Nick was raised by his mother and had little contact with his father except for some letters explaining that he would soon be recognized as one of the three greatest writers in American history. Nick Flynn’s memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, has been adapted for the screen by director Paul Weitz, whose films often explore the relationships between fathers and sons (“About a Boy,” “In Good Company,” “American Pie”).

Paul Dano plays Nick, a young man who has some good instincts and some talent.  He is worse than directionless — he is stuck.  His mother (Julianne Moore) has died and he has no place to go.  He moves into a strip club-turned apartment that is barely more than a squat, selected over the other candidates because he has no family who might come in for an extended stay.  He takes the job at the homeless shelter because it is the first opportunity he hears of.  He is not unsympathetic but he is distant and untrained.  When a resident needs a new pair of pants Nick turns to one of the more experienced aides to ask what size.  The aide says simply, “Ask him.”  Nick begins to see — as we do — the artificiality of the denial-based distance we maintain from people we think might ask more from us than we can give or might make us think about how fragile our support system can be.  When his father (Robert De Niro) shows up in the line of people needing a bed, Nick has so many conflicting feelings he has to go numb — on his own and with some chemical assistance.  He wants to love his father and he wants his father to love him.  He wants to care for him but is afraid of not being able to — we learn more about why later in the story.  He is not prepared to acknowledge how much he wants to be like his father (in following his dream of being a writer) and does not want to be like him (unable to finish his story).  We hear their competing versions of the story but we know, as Nick does, that both are coming from him.

De Niro has one of his best roles as a man wavering between fierce pride and grandiosity.  Jonathan is a man of large gestures and unspeakably selfish behavior. De Niro keeps him human without compromising by trying to make him more sympathetic.  Ultimately, it is Jonathan’s lack of empathy that allows him to finally if briefly provide fatherly support and guidance in telling Nick an important truth that frees him from the past and provides direction for the future.

Parents should know that this film includes constant very strong and crude language, bigoted comments, explicit sexual references and situations, substance abuse including alcohol and drugs, and brief nudity.

Family discussion: What did Nick learn from working in the shelter?  From Denise?  What or who does the title refer to?

If you like this, try: “Joe Gould’s Secret” and the memoir by Nick Flynn

 



Previous Posts

The Other Woman
The latest in a female-centered revenge comedy genre that extends from "9 to 5" through "She-Devil," "The Other Woman" is intended to be a merry little tale of female empowerment and grrrl power.  Instead it is soggy, haphazard, poorly paced slapstick mansplained by director Nick Cassavetes from a

posted 6:00:59pm Apr. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Finding Vivian Maier
Vivian Maier was a Chicago-area nanny.  Only the children in her care knew how much she loved taking pictures.  After her death, the possessions she had in storage were auctioned off and a man named John Maloof bought some boxes of negatives, thinking he might finds some images for his research ab

posted 6:00:24pm Apr. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Walking With the Enemy
Why do we keep making movies about the Holocaust? Because we are still trying to understand one of the most shocking, inhumane tragedies in history. Because it is the essence of heightened, dramatic storylines, with the most depraved real-life villains, the bravest heroes, and the direst moral di

posted 6:00:01pm Apr. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Ebertfest Kicks Off With "Life Itself"
Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") presented "Life Itself," the documentary about Roger Ebert, last night at the majestic Virginia Theater in Roger's home town of Urbana, Illinois, where Roger watched films as a boy and as a college student at the University of Illinois.  He told us he had always thought

posted 9:28:24am Apr. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz stars in the revenge comedy, "The Other Woman" this week, so it is a good time to look back at some of the highlights of her remarkably varied career. Director Charles Russell said he wanted to give Diaz the full movie star glamor treatment in her first feature film appearance in "Th

posted 8:00:04am Apr. 24, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.